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Medical cards and GP visits

Knowing your rights and entitlements in terms of medical care means you know what costs to expect and what free services are available to you.
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Medical cards

A medical card is issued by the Health Service Executive (HSE) if your income is under a certain amount.

If you’re issued with a medical card many medical treatments, including GP visits, public hospital in-patient or out-patient services, maternity care, dental care, eye care and some social and personal services are free of charge.


It also means drugs prescribed by your doctor are much cheaper, with each item currently costing €2 with a cap on your prescription charges of €20 a month.

Can I get a medical card?

If you’re aged between 16 and 25-years-old and financially dependent on your parent/s and they’re entitled to a medical card, then you should also be issued with one automatically.  Your own means and income are assessed to determine whether you should have one, if you‘re not dependent on your parents.

Students can apply for the card via the local health office where they attend college or where their parents live.

The Health Service Executive website has more information about who is entitled to a medical card and what services are included. You can also ring the HSE helpline to double check if a particular service is covered.

The number is 1850 24 1850 and the line is open from 8 am – 8 pm, Monday to Friday and 10 am – 5 pm on Saturday.

What is a GP visit card?

If you don’t qualify for a medical card, you’ll automatically be assessed for a GP visit card. The threshold for this card is a little higher. A GP visit card allows you to visit your doctor for free, though you will still need to pay for prescriptions and other health costs.

All children under six years-old who live in Ireland or who intend to live in Ireland for a year, are eligible for the GP Visit Card through the Children under 6 Scheme.

The Medical Card and GP Visit application forms are the same. Download the form.

What is the Drugs Payment Scheme?

Everyone over 18-years-old in Ireland qualifies for the Drugs Payment Scheme, but you still need to apply for it. With this scheme, you never pay more than €144 a month for prescribed medication with in a one month period. You can apply for this card even if you get approved for a GP visit card.

This can be helpful if you take medication that’s expensive, or have been quite sick and need to take a lot of different medications. The application for the Drugs Payment Scheme is available for download. Read more about the Drugs Payment Scheme.

This article was last reviewed on 03 August 2018

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